Some students got 'acceptance' letters from ASU before they applied. Here's why

By Kirsten Dorman
Published: Saturday, December 24, 2022 - 8:23am
Updated: Sunday, December 25, 2022 - 8:29am

ASU sign
Tim Agne/KJZZ
A sign on Apache Boulevard at ASU Tempe Campus in February 2021.

It’s the middle of college application season. This fall, Arizona State University sent roughly 7,100 “acceptance” letters to high school students in 12 districts throughout the state who hadn’t even applied yet.

It’s an expansion of an outreach technique ASU had already been using for years with high school seniors in Phoenix Union High School District. The letters congratulate them on meeting ASU’s admission requirements or encourage them with how close they are.

Matt Lopez oversees new student recruitment and enrollment at ASU. He says it’s about encouraging students who might not consider themselves college material yet.

“We want to increase the number of students that get a message from ASU,” Lopez said. “And from a positive psychology perspective, that puts them over the hump of saying, ‘Yeah, I can be a university student.’”

Retaining students who achieve a college degree in Arizona’s workforce would benefit the state’s economy, but Lopez says he also understands that higher education is not for everyone. Even if students choose not to attend college right after high school, or even if they never do, Lopez says part of the campaign’s goal is to put the thought of enrolling in their minds and make it an option for them to consider.

“A lot of schools will say, ‘Oh, you’re not admissible. Good luck going somewhere else,’” said Lopez. “What ASU does is say, ‘Come. We’ll help you become admissible.’”

In the near future, Lopez says the hope is to take the letter campaign statewide and include Arizona’s other public universities, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.